Creativity and the Education System

By Saurav Hossain 18’

Creativity, defined as the process of having original ideas that have value, is something that escapes the education system around the world.

Counterintuitive to what one might think about the “modern” education system, it still retains a hierarchy in the subjects that are taught. Growing up in a third world country and then moving to a first world country, although there are significant differences in methods of teaching, with confidence I can say that the emphasis of importance on each subject remains the same. At the top is Math and its variant forms, then Humanities, and at the bottom is Arts. Even among the arts, Music and Visual Arts are placed higher than Dance or Drama. Now you might be thinking, “That’s not true, there are great art schools out there”, of course there are great art schools, but the argument stands that nowhere in the world is there a place where dance is taught at the same level as math. The reason for this is the way our education system was developed and implemented.

Our current education system, like many others around the globe, was developed around the nineteenth century to meet the necessities of industrialization. If you doubt that, think critically about the education system. The most useful subjects for work are at the top, math and science per-se. And the system has been shaped by colleges and universities, made in their image, where intelligence is measured in a student’s academic ability turning the public education system into a feeder for college.

So what happens to our creativity when we go study under this education system? We get educated out of creativity. As we tread through the education system because there is so much emphasis on math, so much on science and so little on arts many students are deterred from the arts altogether. Countless talented and brilliant people are taught to think they are not, because something they are good was never valued in school or even stigmatized.

The key to reforming the education system is rethinking our view of intelligence, which we do by first defining it correctly. What we know about intelligence is: it is diverse, it is dynamic and it is distinct. We think about the world in a myriad of ways we think visually, aesthetically, abstractly, even in sound. For example, 1 in 10,000 people are born with perfect pitch in the U.S, which is the ability to recognize any given note. Doing the math, about 31,890 people in the U.S. currently have perfect pitch, yet very few will discover this trait as they are geared toward the tropes of our education system. Intelligence comes from interactions and different ways of seeing things. Creativity is a crucial part in the way we see things and so we must protect it and educate students accordingly.

If you are an aspiring artist of any form, it’s important to keep in mind that what we are told about arts and the real world do hold true, however, while the education system is not completely on our side we have the ability to take advantage of it in changing times and reform it as we see fit. Even Shakespeare was in an English class once, but now he is the English class. Don’t be deterred and don’t waver from where you stand because staying true to who you are will define your success.

Inspirational Quote: “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”- Pablo Picasso.

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